At the age of 41, with legendary performances against some of the top names in Mixed Martial Arts and a number of significant championship belts hanging on a wall at home, UFC light heavyweight Dan Henderson has done more in his career than most of his peers could ever hope to accomplish. However, the surefire Hall of Fame fighter isn’t content with his success and plans to keep on trucking along until he meets his own personal goals.
Henderson, who fights Mauricio “Shogun” Rua this Saturday night in the main event at UFC 139, recently reflected on his journey in MMA and explained why he still has a ways to go before calling it quits.
“When I left the UFC and went to Strikeforce, I didn’t know what was in the future. (Coming back) was always a possibility; I knew the UFC wasn’t going anywhere and I know I didn’t leave on bad terms at all, so it was a matter of how things worked out at Strikeforce. And Dana (White) missed me so much he had to go buy Strikeforce,” Henderson joked in an interview with the UFC’s website.
However, Henderson admitted he isn’t the same competitor now that he was a decade ago in PRIDE, but also made it clear that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
“Give me a week and I’ll give you a list of what I used to be able to do,” the Californian began on the subject. “But the key is experience, knowing that I can relax in a lot of places where I used to not relax. I could keep going back then, but now I go when I need to go, and I put my energy and strength in the right places.”
Apparently he’s on to something with six wins in seven fights since 2008 including a recently strike-based stoppage of iconic heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. Still, “Hendo” knows he can’t fight forever and confirmed he expects his last hurrah to take place inside the cozy confines of the Octagon rather than under the banner of an outside organization.
“I do this for the challenge as well, and not saying there’s not tough guys to challenge me in Strikeforce, but the bigger fights and better matchups for me right now are in the UFC, so I think I will be retiring in the UFC, and not somewhere else. I’m not retiring soon, but I won’t be going anywhere and I’ll be fighting the remainder of my fights in the UFC I’m sure.”
When it comes to everything he’s done – a double-divisional PRIDE title-holder, Strikeforce champion, Grand Prix winner, Olympian, etc. – Henderson remained humble and revealed he hasn’t met his own expectations, a fact fueling his continued desire to take to the cage.
“I don’t really give too much thought to that,” said Henderson on his achievements. “I know I’ve accomplished quite a bit in the sport, but in my mind, I’m not gonna be satisfied with what I’ve done when I have bigger goals that I want to accomplish. Once I accomplish those goals, maybe I’ll retire and be satisfied with that.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: To paraphrase Mauro Ranallo, if you erect a Mount Rushmore of MMA then Henderson’s face needs to be carved into the cliff. He’s won belts, he’s beaten some of the sport’s best even as an older athlete, he’s represented the USA on an Olympic level, he played a major role in founding one of the most storied gyms in MMA…the list goes on and on. And, though this has nothing to do with HoF status, Henderson is also one helluva nice guy to boot who simply loves life and shares his passion with others.